The Rut Could Explode Any Day

Overall Activity Status: Cooler weather and increased rutting activity has deer moving a lot now. Mostly it has been at night, though. The bigger bucks are increasingly visible, but almost exclusively at night on the trail cameras.

Fighting: Maybe bucks of fairly equal stature will fight over a hot doe. But to a large extent the bucks have dominance sorted out by now. Fights will probably be brief struggles.

Rub Making: Several hunters and other contacts have been commenting that they have seen fewer rubs than usual this fall. Some new rubs are being spotted.

Scrape Making: Likewise, it seems that bucks have made fewer scrapes this year. But from reading comments it seems to be picking up.

Chasing: Certainly some does have been bred, but there has not yet been a lot of chasing activity yet. What there has been has mostly been brief.

Daytime Movement: This will increase as chasing increases.

Estrous Signs: And chasing will increase as more does come into heat.

X Factor: I still anticipate that the rut peak will be like an explosion, bucks chasing does all over. It can happen any day now. This is quite a contrast to the fall of 2012, when it was somewhat difficult to tell when the peak started and when it ended. Of course not everywhere in the region was alike last year, nor will it be alike this year. All of this can get complicated in conversations among deer hunters since each hunter has his, or her, own notion of what qualifies as the rut peak.

This is certain: the rut is upon us. This does not necessarily mean you will see deer actually breeding. The current status of the rut is well described by Robert Rogan's recent successful hunt in Connecticut.

Wisely, Rogan was in his stand very early. The first deer, does, made their appearance at about 7:30 a.m. They milled around about a half-hour, then started acting spooky. Rogan's first thought was that the does had caught his scent. But then he started hearing the sound of an approaching deer, which was an eight-point buck. When it got within 30 yards of the does it stopped, then bounded toward them. First the deer moved toward Rogan's stand, then they ran off. He heard thrashing, and soon two does were visible, then the younger deer that had been with them before the buck intervened.

Rogan thought it was over when the does looked like they were going to leave. At that point he hit his grunt tube with five grunts, then put the tube in his pocket. He heard the buck approaching before seeing it. The buck was in an obviously agitated state.

"He continued to thrash saplings and rub some hanging vines, whatever he could get his horns on. Then he made a scrape, then another," Rogan said.

When the buck started walking toward the does again, Rogan went to the grunt tube again. The buck did not appear to notice very soft grunts. After a loud grunt, though, it looked like it was ready for a fight, and it started walking toward the does again.

"He got to about 30 yards and let out a long and loud snort-wheeze. Not like in the tv shows, this was more a really loud 'shhhhhhhhh' that lasted a few seconds."

All of this had Rogan excited. Still he was patient, and hoped the buck would take a few steps toward him. Instead the buck thrashed with a sapling.

"Then he turned right and was headed my way. He got to 6 yards and made a scrape. That's when I let my arrow fly."

The buck, shown above, ran about 100 yards before hitting the ground. Rogan called it an awesome experience. I agree.